Assuming that everyone reading this is at least thinking about law school, I’m sure that’s a question that each of you has asked.
A lot of people would probably be surprised by your answer.
Stereotypically, lawyers are about money and nothing but money (OK, maybe power and fancy cars, too). At this point we’ll probably never know why Shakespeare had it out for us, but when Dick the Butcher said “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”1, it didn’t bode well for our public image.
However, a recently conducted Kaplan survey2 paints a very different picture of the potential class of 2016.
When asked to describe their primary reason for applying to law school, a whopping 71% said “to go into a career I am passionate about” – and only 5% cited improved salary potential.
Some of the replies to other questions were also enlightening, although not that surprising to someone who’s been following the employment woes of recent law school grads. For example, 50% of respondents said that they planned to pursue a non-traditional legal role (as opposed to practicing as an attorney). Of those who planned an alternative to traditional practice, 60% cited the current state of the job market as a motivating factor.
Along similar lines, over 40% of respondents plan to pursue a job in the business, rather than legal, world. An almost identical percentage said that they’d likely get an MBA if they weren’t applying to law school.
It will be interesting to see how this shift in focus affects law schools; for example, if a large proportion of applicants are interested in non-traditional careers, will schools with a purely traditional curriculum see their numbers drop as savvy students shop for the right mix of upper year classes? Will schools foster closer contacts within the business world to build career centres that better suit their students’ needs? How will admissions officers deal with the growing number of personal statements that reflect this change in attitude?
Why are you pursuing law and what are your post-graduation plans?
1 2 Henry VI, 4.2.59, Dick the Butcher to Jack Cade
2 The online survey was conducted in February 2013 of 228 pre-law students who took a Kaplan LSAT course.